Monday, December 9, 2019

Uncut Gems - Movie Review

The Movie: Uncut Gems

The Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

The Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett

The Story: A charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score, makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime.

The Review:
You know those times when Adam Sandler is really loud and annoying? His character in this movie is that from the very beginning all the way to the very end and oddly enough I'm not saying this as a bad thing. Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie have created a dramatic thriller that starts off at level 10 intensity and never lets up. Not once. This is edge of your seat, gripping your arm rests cinema at its finest and, as hard as it can be to sit through at times, it is ultimately a very satisfying experience.

Most of the intensity comes from Sandler's performance as Howard Ratner, a New York city jeweler who is constantly wheeling and dealing, laying bets using money he doesn't have, and always looking for the big score that will set him up for life. He crosses paths with the rich, the powerful, the drug dealers, the bankers, the gamblers, the loan sharks, the auction houses, the partyers, and even a few NBA players, all the while spewing a steady stream of verbiage that is as impressive as it is excessive.

Speaking of NBA players, Kevin Garnett is in the movie and not just as a token cameo, he has a very significant role even if it is as himself. I was actually quite impressed with his acting, especially when he was verbally sparring with Sandler who, in this movie, is easily and without a doubt at the top of his game. Also sparring with Sandler is Julia Fox who makes her feature film debut as Howard's girlfriend (yes, he's married), a woman who has just as much of a fiery, take no prisoners mentality as the man himself so you can imagine what kind of fun conversations that can lead to.

I don't know how many times I, or my friend who saw the movie with me, wanted to tell Howard to shut the hell up because he goes on forever and you also never really want it to end so when it does, we were left with this shockingly empty feeling that had emotions going all over the place. Howard is both a hero and a villain and also not really either because he really only cares about himself and money. The frenetic nature of his personality is constantly flipping back and forth as he runs between deals and works every angle he can find.

The movie I can think of that comes closest to the level of intensity without being a horror or action movie would have to be Whiplash and holy drum sets, that movie is such a beautifully orchestrated crescendo of heart pounding drama. In contrast, Uncut Gems is more like a drug fueled train wreck that you can't look away from until it's done twisting and testing every ounce of your movie going resolve. And I mean that in a good way.

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